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In episode #6 we talk to Vera Steinhäuser who runs her own agency Sie&Ich. Vera tells us her view on what makes brand successful in a digital domain and what role music plays in this. This time the episode is in German you can find the English transcript below.
MK: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
VS:: My pleasure. For three years now I have been running my own agency and before that, I used to work for big international agencies for almost twenty years. Now I enjoy being self employed and the freedom regarding content and doing every aspect in communication. I have clients that need me to create corporate identities – starting with the naming and branding and I also have clients, who only need a website, for example. The spectrum is really, really broad.
MK: Our focus today is going to be music. To find a starting point: What does music mean to you? Irrespective of the business, just for your private life?
VS: Music, for me personally, has always been a very, very important topic. I am lucky enough to have grown up in a very musical family. My grandmother and my aunt were opera singers. My father was called „The Elvis from Wörthersee“ in the late sixties and there are other musical talents in my family. I am not that musical, unfortunately, in the sense of making music myself. I’ve learned to play the guitar and the flute, but I think I forgot all of it. But nonetheless, music is an important element of life for me.
MK: It’s important to you, meaning music is part of your daily life?
VS: Of course, it has always been an important factor. But I think it increased enormously in the recent years. And when I’m picking out especially the digital aspect, which is essential in my profession, I’d say, there’s this time before music entered the digital world and after. I remember it vividly, that was a magic moment. It was, I think, in 2006 or 2007. I was part of the jury in Cannes – that was a time when it was discussed a lot: Do people have their sound on on their PCs? If they do, will they be angry about sound being played? There were pretty intense discussions. Funny, thinking about it. Anyhow. We were sitting at the jury meeting and half of the projects were with music or sound and the other half wasn’t. And that was a real light bulb moment for us the jury-members. To not be able to do without this element. And since then, a lot has happened, it’s been ten years. And I think, because digital touchpoints are so important to brands, music is essential. We experienced how touchpoints were newly defined in the past few years. Touchpoints between consumers and brands are much less rigid. Back then you had everything neatly in your Excel media plans, but by now it is all very fluid. And when you stop thinking in mere channels and start thinking about the experience, it becomes clear, that music is an essential part of making a brand accessible. There’s hardly any music you don’t care about. That would be elevator music of store music – but that will change too, for sure. So I think, it is an essential element to deliver on the full spectrum in brand communication. Consumers want to experience a brand, they want to feel it, they want to know what the brand stands for. And music is incredibly essential to demonstrate that and be heard. Not only to be seen, but also to be heard.
“I think, because digital touchpoints are so important to brands, music is essential. We experienced how touchpoints were newly defined in the past few years. Touchpoints between consumers and brands are much less rigid.”
MK: Meaning, as we also concluded in recent podcast episodes, the emotional side of a brand can be transported via music.
VS: Absolutely, yes.
MK: For brands it’s always about recognition in their environment: when you hear a brand, you want to make sure your customers recognise it in the least possible amount of time. Do you know any brands that especially relate to using specific music?
VS: Of course there are some brands that are doing this pretty well. I had the pleasure to work intensively with the Deutsche Telekom from 2010 to 2012 in Germany. And that’s a great example for how, by taking the Brand signet, such elements can play an essential role already in a brand’s definition, in the brand architecture. I think there are many examples that show how important it can be and what value it can add to create a soundtrack for a brand so to say.
MK: I think it has become kind of a prototype today, to think about communication in different formats as a brand. In the past it was kind of limited, you had this 30-second principle. But it’s expensive and you have to interrupt. The media consumption changed a lot, people have possibilities to skip ads by using premium services, using Netflix or Amazon Prime. People opt-out from advertisement if they can afford it. Which doesn’t mean they opt-out from brands.
VS: Absolutely, yes. That’s what I find particularly interesting in this regard. I think this will be a discussion topic in the next few years, because you have to differentiate: On one hand, there’s Sound- or Music-assets for a brand as fixed elements. If you want it to be part as your brand’s DNA. That’s the one side. On the other side, and it both has its eligibility, is to define temporary music styles and pieces. For example H&M, who do really big campaigns, through all channels and for those channels where sound makes sense, there’s a soundtrack being defined for one season. Which again relates to the brand itself of course. I find this very exciting. I think there will happen a lot in the next few year. For one by creating those key sound- and music-assets for brands, but also those fluid sound- and music-elements. I think this is just starting and will for sure lead to many exciting concepts.
MK: That’s like – I would say – a distinction between brand recognition and a general mood. When is it about identity, when about experience? Having a framework for making the right decision in each case.
MK: Earlier it was like „Okay, I’ve got to put as many products and brand mentions in those 30 secs as possible“. For this reason the story often suffered. And what you can observe now, is that more successful brands tend to tell stories and create exciting content, people want to devote their time on. As you said – there are those two aspects. First, the basic sound assets within a brand-DNA like soundlogos etc., to gain recognition and stay consistent over the years. And second, the playful part, used for campaigns etc.
VS: …. Like moods. I think that’s very exciting, yes. And I think brand concepts will become more flexible in the future. I think the definition of a brand’s core values is something, that is important and essential and it’s become clear that it is important to define as many such aspects as possible. But I think the cherry on top will be to also to stage the mood for brands. To also be able react to trends, for example.
One of my all time favorite examples when it comes to music in brand communication is the GUCCI 360 degree video of their spring collection with an incredibly good song from the sixties. For me that’s the benchmark: A combination of cutting-edge technology and well chosen emotional music to pick up the audience. That’s where I see the future.
Btw… you’ve got to watch the GUCCI video on your mobile to enjoy it fully. So you can dance to it.
“I think the definition of a brand’s core values is something, that is important and essential and it’s become clear that it is important to define as many such aspects as possible. But I think the cherry on top will be to also to stage the mood for brands.”
MK: Are there any other examples where music plays an essential role?
VS: Last year I had a fashion retail client who needed a re-positioning and it was clear to me immediately: How the shopping experience has to feel, to smell and that music will have an essential impact. So we defined a brand core that’s rooted in Fench Culture. And of course the soundtrack had to fit. We decided which kind of music it has to be and which emotions and flair it hast to transport to create the perfect atmosphere. We also did an olfactory concept to take care of the sense of smell too. I’m entirely convinced that the retail branch will make enormous progress to offer multisensory brand experiences. Customers want to really experience something and retail will have to offer some arguments for people to come to physical stores. This is a topic I follow with great interest and where I’m very active myself.
“I’m entirely convinced that the retail branch will make enormous progress to offer multisensory brand experiences.”
MK: That’s indeed one of the biggest opportunities music has to offer for brands: Being part of the whole experience that is the reason I actually go out to shop in a store.
VS: Absolutely, right.
MK: Thank you Vera, those were some exciting insights.
VS: My pleasure.
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